‘Violent protests may become trend in lead-up to 2019 Lok Sabha poll’

Last week, Kolkata witnessed two separate clashes by the Left Front and BJP against the police, which left hundreds of political workers and around 100 police officers injured.

Written by Santanu Chowdhury | Kolkata | Updated: May 29, 2017 12:44:47 am
Kolkata news, BJP and Left, BJP and CPM, West bengal clash, TMC, Mamata Banerjee, lok sabha 2019 election, lok sabha, indian express news, india new news City people along with intellectuals take out a rally for Peace and Harmony in connection with recent intolerance several part of the country on May 28, 2017 in South Kolkata. (Express photo by Partha Paul)

With the Opposition resorting to agitations to protest against the state government’s “misrule”, political observers feel this trend of “displaying muscle power” will continue till the 2019 Lok Sabha election. Last week, the city witnessed two separate clashes by the Left Front and BJP against the police, which left hundreds of political workers and around 100 police officers injured.

Agitators also destroyed public property, and the violence created a sense of panic among people.
According to Rabindra Bharati University’s political science professor Biswanath Chakrabarty, such violent political movements are likely to intensify in days to come.

“Historically, it proves that West Bengal is very much a politically-violent state. Violence and counter-violence are always prevailing in West Bengal politics. There is no sign of an end to violent politics from the ruling party or the Opposition. Opposition also considers it important to put up a counter-hegemony against the state government’s hegemony,” Chakrabarty said.

In a fast-changing political scenario, there is a huge competition between BJP and the Left Front-Congress combine to emerge as the main Opposition. Before the 2014 Lok Sabha election, and the subsequent rise of BJP in the state, the fight used be between Left Front and Trinamool Congress.

The Congress used to enjoy the support of either the Trinamool Congress or the Left. The arrival of BJP, however, changed the political equation. After consecutive electoral defeats, the Left Front is seen as fast losing relevance in state politics, and struggling to maintain a presence with the support of Congress, which has suffered a similar fate.

The BJP, on the other hand, has been riding high on the party’s performance in other states, and managed to emerge second in Lok Sabha and Assembly bypolls. “Here comes the importance of displaying of muscle power. Now, the battle is between BJP and Left Front to prove who is more aggressive in countering the ruling party. The aim of both parties is to show muscle power and remain on the streets. This will only intensify in the days to come, and there is no sign of an end to this kind of politics,” he added.

Next year, panchayat polls will be held in the state, and Lok Sabha elections will be held in 2019. Maidul Islam, assistant professor of political science at the Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Calcutta, also feels there will be no respite for the next two to three years. “West has a history of political violence. This is nothing new. The only difference is that political players have changed… Both BJP and Left Front will try to claim the position of main Opposition.” he said.

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